Napoleon love letter sells for $557,000

( AP ) - A love letter from Napoleon to his mistress Josephine sold for $557,000, more than five times its estimate, at a London auction that attracted spirited bidding for several rare items.

The letter is one of only three known to have survived from the future emperor's passionate three-month affair preceding his marriage to Josephine.

The sale price at Tuesday's auction at Christie's was far above the estimate of $100,000.

The total price bid for items from the collection of the late Albin Schram was $7,730,128, double the pre-sale estimate, Christie's said.

The letter from Napoleon to Josephine, given to Schram by a family member in 1973, was the inspiration for his extraordinary collection including letters by Winston Churchill, John Donne, Alexandr Pushkin and Isaac Newton.

A letter by Mohandas Gandhi was withdrawn from the sale Monday so it could be acquired by the government of India. That letter, written 19 days before Gandhi was assassinated in 1948, pleaded for tolerance toward the Muslim minority.

An 1831 letter written by the Russian writer Pushkin, said to be only the second by his hand to appear at auction for more than 30 years, sold for $290,000, nearly doubling its pre-sale estimate. Pushkin wrote to Baron E. Rosen, editor of the almanac Altsiona, saying he could not offer any short works for publication because he was busy preparing the third edition of his poems.

A manuscript by Newton, in which he compares his views on gravity and the universe to those of Plutarch, Aristotle and Plato, sold for $411,000, four times the top estimate.

A letter written in 1624 by Donne, the celebrated English priest and poet, sold for $230,000, a few thousand below the pre-sale estimate.

Schram, who had kept the documents in a filing cabinet in his home in Lausanne, Switzerland, died in 2005.

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